Bennett II more than just coach’s kid

Louis Bennett II’s recruitment was interesting, to say the least. The Marquette men’s soccer team’s newest player was a consensus top-100 recruit and the top-ranked prospect in the Midwest, and his father happens to coach of one of the fastest-improving programs in Division I.

While Coach Louis Bennett didn’t take anything for granted in convincing his son to play collegiate sports at Marquette, Bennett II always had an inkling he would end up as a Golden Eagle. The team’s recent success didn’t hurt its cause, either.

“The season when they won the Big East and the season they had in 2012 showed how the program was improving,” Bennett II said. “I would want to be a part of that.”

“(Even) before that, I always wanted to play for my dad,” he added.

Bennett II is enrolled at Marquette and taking part in the team’s offseason workouts. The 17-year-old graduated from high school a semester early and is the team’s new No. 19.

After moving away from home for 18 months to be part of the Chicago Fire’s residency program, Bennett II returned for six months to finish his high school degree. The completion of his diploma and his early enrollment at Marquette might actually have been aided by an injury he suffered last March.

Bennett II broke his femur, which sidelined him for the rest of the spring and summer. Because of the injury, he had more time to work on his degree and get to Marquette sooner.

Now, at age 17, Bennett II isn’t just a student-athlete but one of the youngest people on Marquette’s campus.

“I don’t know if any 17-year-old walks onto a Marquette campus and (has) it be natural,” Bennett said. “We expected there to be a learning curve. He’s one of the youngest people on campus right now.”

This will be the first time since Bennett II was 10 years old that he will be coached by his father. While they might not have enjoyed a coach-player relationship in the intervening years, the Bennetts always discussed their games together.

“The main thing was if I ever needed help, he’d always be a person I would go to,” Bennett II said. “He never really came up to me and told me what I needed to do or what I should do. It was a lot more (like) I would go to him and he would be a resource.”

As the process of selecting a college came along, Bennett wanted to give his son all the freedom a normal recruit would enjoy. He did not pressure him, nor did he even do the majority of recruiting when it came to Bennett II.

When Bennett II did commit to Marquette, he told his mother first, before his father and future coach.

“(Bennett) always said he had an in with his mom, so that made it easier,” Assistant Coach Steve Bode said. “We wanted to make sure that (Bennett II) was treated in a way that any other recruit would be treated, and that’s difficult. We wanted to be respectful of that because he had a lot of different schools after him.”

Bennett knew there was a good chance his son would commit to Marquette. If he wasn’t able to get a commitment from him, that might reflect poorly on the program, Bennett said.

“For me as a coach,” Bennett said, “why wouldn’t I go after my own son, and if I couldn’t … have a good chance at getting him, what would that say about my program at Marquette?”

When the games begin, the freshman knows the father-son relationship will be tough to deal with. Bennett II said it will not be a problem, though, as they both are working toward one common goal.

“He’ll treat me on the field like I’m a normal player, which is nice because I’m not looking for anything special or anything less than a player on the team already has,” Bennett II said. “That’s one aspect I feel comfortable with, because right now I’m just another guy trying to win a national championship.”